Media literacy in the UK

Ofcom's 2016 Media Use Report reveals unsophisticated searchers - and worrying generational divides.

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Ofcom's 2016 Media Use and Attitudes report has just been published.

The full report (200+ pages) is available for free download.  However, here are some highlights of interest to information professionals.

Consumers are unsophisticated searchers – but there has been some improvement since 2014

  • 51% of UK searchers can't spot a paid ad
    • Even though sponsored links are distinguished by an orange box with the word 'Ad' in it, only half of adults aged 16+ who use search engines identified sponsored links on Google as advertising.
    • 18% of searchers think that if a website has been listed it must be accurate and unbiased.
    • 12% say they have not thought about it.
    • 8% say they do not know.
  • (62%) search engine users demonstrate some level of critical understanding by acknowledging that some websites returned by search engines will be accurate or unbiased while others will not be – this figure remains  unchanged in the last 12 months
  • However, the percentage of users believing that search engine results will be accurate and unbiased has declined from 23% to 18%

Video viewing

  • 78% of users have watched a short video clip online, up 5% from 2014
  • Weekly video watching figures have increased significantly in the last 12 months – up from 39% to 48%
  • Smartphones are the most used devices for watching video – especially with younger adults

Social inclusion and connectivity

Almost two thirds of the over-75s and a third of those aged 64-74 year olds never access the internet.  Additionally older users of the internet are more likely to be 'narrow' internet users – regularly using a limited number of sites and tools and unwilling to access new sites.

One of the most interesting findings is about the communication landscape – and how different age groups use communication tools.  The report warns against a 'polarity' in the landscape in which different generations use different tools:

“… and there is a risk that common means of communication that cut across demographics are becoming increasingly rare, with implications for social connectivity and information-sharing.”

The full report is available hereAdditional content from econsultancy.